Keith House's History

The Keith House at 1900 S. Prairie Avenue was completed in 1870 and was designed by J. R. Roberts in the Victorian Châteauesque style, combining classical and French motifs. The house has been in the same family since 1978 when they opened an art gallery and continue to foster community through art shows and other civic gatherings.

In the late 19th century, Prairie Avenue between 16th and 22nd Streets was Chicago’s original “Gold Coast.” Legendary families like Kimball, Glessner, Armour, Coleman, Field and Pullman — Chicago’s business and civic elite — lived in opulence along the tree-lined avenue. It was called “the sunny street that holds the sifted few.”

After a long period of neglect, Prairie Avenue and its surrounding neighborhood are experiencing a boom. Located one mile south of Chicago’s downtown and just a few blocks from Soldier Field, McCormick Place and Lake Michigan, this section of the city has become a model of urban re-birth.

The Keith House — named for the banker and merchant Elbridge Keith who built it — is one of few remaining original mansions in the heart of the Prairie Avenue Historic District.

The Keith House also overlooks the Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens — commemorating important women in Chicago’s history — with intricate pathways, ornate flower beds and a central fountain. In the grounds of the park is Chicago’s oldest residence, the Clarke House which is open for tours as is The Glessner House Museum. The views of the park are breath-taking.

The 1900 block of Prairie Avenue has been made into a cul-de-sac, a rare urban street that is free from passing traffic. From the bustle of downtown only a few streets away, this stretch of Prairie Avenue feels like a step into a restful retreat of genteel calm.